Theresa May has called for a snap general election to be held on 8 June 2017.
Explaining her decision, May said that when she became prime minister, the country needed stability. She has delivered that – as well as delivered on the referendum result.
However, the only way to “guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take,” continued May.
In the surprise announcement on Tuesday morning outside Downing Street, May continued: “In recent weeks Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union.
“The Liberal Democrats said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.
“The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain's membership of the European Union.
“And un-elected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.
“If we do not hold a general election now, their political game playing will continue.”
May finished by saying: “It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.
“So, tomorrow, let the House of Commons vote for an election, let everybody put forward their proposals for Brexit and their programmes for Government, and let us remove the risk of uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands.”
Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has since responded to May’s announcement on Twitter.
“This is your chance to change the direction of your country,” he told users of the social media site.
“If you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant, and united, this is your chance.
“Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”
The Green Party, similarly, welcomed the announcement of an early general election.
“Join us to fight for a future to be proud of,” they said via their Twitter page.
And Caroline Lucas, the co-leader of the Green Party, told The Guardian: “Britain is at a crossroads – and today’s announcement means that people are rightly given a say over the direction this country is going to take. Only the Green Party offers a bold, positive vision for a different kind of Britain. At this election we will stand for an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few; a Britain that’s open to the world and the protection of our precious environment.
“We will stand up to the politics of hatred and division that is scarring our communities and give people across the country a chance to vote for a better Britain.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: “I welcome the PM’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.
“Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.
“In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.”
The prime minister says she will move a motion for an early election in the House of Commons tomorrow, for MPs to vote on.
It will require a two-thirds majority to be carried.
May’s announcement came as a shock to many, particularly as she previously stressed on numerous occasions that there would be no early election under her leadership.
In September 2016, she said: “I’m not going to be calling a snap election. I’ve been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability, to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing and have that election in 2020.”
And just weeks ago, on 20 March, a Downing Street spokesperson told the press: “There is no change in our position on an early general election.
“There is not going to be a general election.”
Images: Rex Features